- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
The New England Patriots could go into 2022 with the cornerback group that they have. But the group might need an under-construction sign for the first few weeks of the season — at the very least.
New England can’t be certain they’re going to get the quality play they need from Malcolm Butler, Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones, Shaun Wade, Myles Bryant and Joejuan Williams, among others. That’s why so many draft analysts think we’ll see the Patriots take a cornerback as early as Round 1. The Patriots may not be able to get the most elite prospects in this draft class, like Sauce Gardner. But the Patriots can land really good players at 21 — and later.
So let’s dive into one cornerback that New England could target in every round.
Round 1: Trent McDuffie, Washington
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
There may not be a better tackler in this year’s cornerback class. McDuffie is a feisty player in run support and shows the ability to fly into the backfield on runs and receiver screens. That relentless quality should appeal to the Patriots. His nastiness appears, too, in his work in coverage, where he agitates receivers. Maybe McDuffie isn’t supersized: 5-foot-11, 195. But he appears to have the measurables to be a CB1 in the NFL.
Round 2: Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State
AP Photo/Butch Dill
There aren’t many draft prospects — or current NFL players — with the standout athleticism that McCollum has. He ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash with a 6.48-second 3-cone drill, a 39.5-inch vertical leap and a 132-inch broad jump. That’s an elite measurement in every category. Sometimes, great athletes aren’t great football players. That’s not the case with McCollum, who was solid at Sam Houston State. The reason why he’s a second- or third-round talent is because of that lower level of competition.
Round 3: Cordale Flott, LSU
Syndication: The Tennessean
Flott is a weird projection at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds. That’s extremely light for a corneback. He needs time in the weight room — and probably should spend his nights downing ice cream and peanut butter sandwiches. But he showed enough promise in the SEC to draw mid-round consideration. If New England can get Flott playing at a higher weight (while preserving his athleticism), the Patriots could develop him into a really good CB2.
Round 4: Joshua Jobe, Alabama
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jobe underwhelmed in his final season with Alabama. It’s a bad sign when a prospect earns the label of a “Cover 2 cornerback” in his draft profile. That’s not exactly a term of flattery. However, with New England likely to run more zone in 2022, the Patriots might see Jobe as a fit. If Belichick thinks Jobe can work his way into playing a backup role on the outside, he would be worth a try in the fourth round. If that fails, the Patriots might move him to safety.
Round 5: Mario Goodrich, Clemson
Syndication: The Greenville News
Here’s another zone cornerback, with draft analysts concerned about his lack of speed. (He ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, which won’t cut it against Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill.) He’s a former captain at Clemson and a willing tackler. He is “more likely to tackle the catch than play the football,” per NFL.com. So the Patriots can try him in their zone scheme — but they’d have to see him develop (or get faster) to have confidence he could handle man-defense at the NFL level.
Round 6: JaQuan McMillian, East Carolina
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
He played well in man coverage at ECU, but there are some legitimate concerns about whether he’ll have the requisite athleticism in the NFL to put it all together. In the meantime, the Patriots would send him out on special teams and see if he can make a mark there.
Round 7: Jack Jones, ASU
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Ever since PFF’s Doug Kyed profiled Jones as a potential Patriot, the ASU product has been a popular candidate as a late-round pick in mock drafts. Jones was a stellar high school recruit that had issues on and off the field in college. His final college season was impressive enough that a team like the Patriots might take a risk to draft and develop Jones.